“Our inner freedom knows no limits other than those we impose on it or allow to be imposed on it. And that freedom also holds great power. It can transform an individual, allow him to nurture all his capacities and to live every moment of his life in utter fullfilment. When individuals change by bringing their consciousness to maturity, the world changes too, because the world is made up of individuals. ” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.
To be free is to be master of oneself.
No doubt you’ve heard the aphorism “healthy mind, healthy body”. What is not often heard is the full phrase from the Roman poet Juvenal (wiki). It discusses a list of what he proposes is desirable in life – the English translation is this:
“You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature’s gifts that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus. What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.”
Wow… is that beautiful or is it just me? That is what I call philosophy and it is about health and fitness, it’s about appreciating life and choosing hard work and it’s about a meaningful lifestyle and is very old wisdom which is still relevant today. Juvenal and I are promoting the same thing.
Healthy mind is the partner of healthy body. It is a half of yin and yang. I am promoting it first and foremost in this book because most people skip straight over it and start trying to lose their five kilograms! And why? To look better – sure! To feel better – ok? To be more happy – great! To become a better person for yourself and those around you? Awesome! But won’t you also feel better and be more happy and a better person if you have also improved your mind? Hhhhhmmm…
“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives”. William James
Focus one is about realizing and choosing your own personal philosophies on life and health and fitness. Focus one is about self-awareness and awareness of our influences.. We are looking for principles and truths of being, knowledge and conduct in relation to your health, fitness and lifestyle. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be a philosopher – you just need to understand your influences, values and beliefs and you need to understand and trust the fact that you can change these if you want to.
Focusing your philosophy is about being open to seeing yourself and your challenges in a new way. This principle is about realizing and accepting we can continue to raise self- awareness and gain more control of our health, fitness and life . The idea is that too often we are following someone else’s script or an old script of our own making and following paths we do not truly wish to be on. Too often we are dwelling on our past and present and limiting what our future can be. We are being held back from being a better version of ourselves by self-limiting beliefs, emotions and limiting influences. We need to be aware of our influences and take control of ourselves and expand our minds – our thoughts, feelings and actions in order to be who we truly want to be. Sometimes we are asleep to this and we need to wake up and realize this and its affect on many areas of our life but particularly our own health and fitness.
Focus one is about honest self appraisal and the realization that we must take control of what we accept to be our guiding truths and principles. By that I mean we must take control of our own philosophy and mind-set. If we do not consciously choose our mind set and philosophy it is handed to us by our family, friends, society, media and culture and it may not necessarily lead us towards where and who we want to be.
Your philosophy is the catalyst for who you are and where you are heading. Our philosophy defines our attitudes and actions results and lifestyle. Our philosophy is at the root of our mind set. It is akin to our mental maps – the way we see the world.
The great Stephen Covey talks about mental maps in his book – The seven habits of highly effective people. Covey uses the example of trying to find your way around Chicago with a map of Detroit. No matter how many strategies you apply or how hard you try – it will not work if you do not have the right map. Similarly your efforts to improve your life – health and fitness will not work if you are not starting your journey with a realistic, honest and helpful way of looking at yourself and the world.
This is why Focus number one is philosophy – it is about realizing we are deeply affected by mental maps – our mind-set and yet we are also able to change these aspects of ourselves. Have you ever said to yourself “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good at that” or “I’m too tired/sick/busy/stupid/etc/etc”? Your philosophy is partly why you say these things.
Covey goes on to discuss how building the right Mindset or developing the right philosophy builds character in the person and it is only with a character ethic that true success can be achieved. He parallels this with the personality ethic which is more based on quick fix strategies and immediate results.
I love the character ethic approach because it is about developing and perfecting who you are. It is about seeking and unfolding your own unique talents, beliefs, values and motivators and using these as the basis and foundation for your journey through life.
As opposed to the personality approach which is about doing it that way because someone else does it that way that is better than you! These programs work like this – “It worked for me and it will work for you too if you try hard enough!” Whilst this approach may get more immediate results than the character approach it is also more doomed to failure in the long run because it is not based on the individuals intrinsic values.
Without first establishing a strong philosophy it is highly unlikely we will ever achieve success with our health fitness and lifestyle goals. You have to work out what is vitally important to you. You have to work out why these goals or challenges are important and why you know you can achieve them.
In motivation for coaches Roy Sugarman highlights the importance of “coaching emotion”.
Philosophy in this sense opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in terms of who we can be and what we able to accomplish. If we can change our philosophy we can change our attitude, actions, results and lifestyle. It is at this philosophical level that our values are established. And it is our values that are the underlying motivators of all of our actions.
Focus one – is a kind is a spiritual awakening which can renew and revitalize our sprit and soul. The act of thinking about our philosophy lets us re establish and stay in touch with our values and deepen our sense of being and purpose in our lives.
The fact is “normal” living these days does not always promote normal/acceptable health and fitness. Focus one introduces strategies you can apply now to increase your awareness and take more control over your own health, fitness and lifestyle. Like all of the habits of healthy fit people – you will find these strategies make sense and rely only on you.
FOCUS ONE – PHILOSOPHY STRATEGIES
With the strategies suggested we suggest you find and apply the ones that appeal to you. It is not realistic to try them all and definitely not all at once but different things will work for different people. When you do get a “lux” light bulb moment and say “ah-ha! That should work for me” make a note of it. Write it down. Turn it into your strategy and actions.
ACT OR BE ACTED UPON.
The first strategy is about taking action today. If you want better health and fitness tomorrow
– you have to start today. More importantly by not acting today you are allowing the poisons of inactivity and poor health to drip, drip, drip… If you are not building health – you are allowing decay and disease to slowly start forming until one day it feels that you have been poisoned. “There is a door to vitality open now, not so much tomorrow, and someday it can close entirely, and forever” (Roy Sugarman – Saving Your life one day at a time) Act or be acted means take control of your health today – before your health takes control of you. Set a goal to take at least one daily action towards better health and fitness (this can mean mind, movement, food or active rest).
WRITE A MISSION STATEMENT.
In this statement you can get clear about what value you place on your health and fitness and what you will do to maintain it. You can then transfer these deeper values into emotions and into meaningful and vital goals to maintain your awareness. This is an opportunity to consciously choose our deeper thoughts, feelings and actions about what better health, fitness and lifestyle is for you.
Building belief in yourself that you can achieve your goals and you can do what you have to do to achieve them. Some great ways to build belief in yourself is to set small achievable goals and experience sequential success. Some other great ways to build belief is to use positive affirmations, mission statements, goals and even meditation. Seeking out a supportive coach or friend from whom you can gain skills is also helpful. This is about building belief through training your mind to control your body and developing inner integrity. Set small achievable goals and praise/reward yourself along the way.
This strategy for redefining yourself and reality is about taking on life’s challenges. In many ancient – cultures (and still some modern) people knew when it was time to stop being a child and start contributing to something greater than themselves. Just in case the child did not know when this time was the society would cut the skin off their penis or beat them or send them out to kill a sabre tooth tiger or get some painful tattoos. Upon surviving these events the child knew they were now an adult and expected to behave as one. Do we all know when we were transformed? Getting control of your health and fitness can be one such challenge or transformation. You could even train for an event or goal (make it your initiation rite). The point is if you are wallowing in poor health and blaming life, events, circumstances etc you are not being responsible for your health and fitness. Adults should take control of
themselves and make a contribution to those around them and a great place to start is with good health and fitness. If you have not accomplished this – make it your initiation! Even if you are already good – make getting better your challenge! Initiate yourself means accept the challenge of greater health and fitness as a basic expectation of yourself as an adult in our society. You will know you have “arrived” when you have achieved your goal or completed your event and I guarantee at this point you will feel more masterful, more in control of your own health and fitness and you will feel initiated into the health and fitness lifestyle.
ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY AND RESULTS.
This idea is about accepting your results as what you deserve based on your actions. If you are currently overweight – you likely deserve to be. Barring accident or disability – most diseases we face in our society are lifestyle driven. And guess who gets to decide on the lifestyle you live? You. Me. We are all responsible for where we are and where we are heading and accepting this is vital to gaining greater awareness and control. There is no doubt some people have a better opportunity to enjoy a greater life than others. Some people are surrounded by negativity and very bad influences. This strategy is not about denying all of our influences and challenges – it is about taking responsibility and ownership and taking control of the things you can control. If you aren’t happy with your results – look at your actions. If you aren’t happy with your actions – look at your attitude. If you aren’t happy with your attitude – look at your philosophy. Somewhere along this continuum you are responsible for your results. The great news is – if you accept this – you are also the best person to change your results. Try writing down some results you are not happy with including acceptance of your responsibility for these results (without being negative) and what you will do to change them.
NEVER STOP LEARNING.
One of my favorite health coaches – Paul Chek says “Never stop Learning”. He also talks about the difference between a learned man and a wise man being a learned man knows allot of good things – a wise man does allot of good things . It is relatively useless to learn but not apply. It is much more wise to learn apply, reflect and learn some more. Unfortunately today there is also a lot of misleading information out there about health and fitness products and programs. The fact is – we don’t need products and programs. We need natural laws and principles. If you are reading or participating in something that promotes processed food or weird machines before natural food and human movement you are being sold something other than your best health and fitness. So many of these “solutions” are about telling people what they want to hear and quick-fix, short term results. Seeking learning towards best health and fitness is about finding the right information for you for the long term and this should be based on natural law. Find the right information – learn, apply, reflect and soon enough you will have a lifestyle that is heading towards optimal health and fitness
“One is not born wise; one becomes it.” Mathieu Ricard – happiness
Take a few minutes, a few times per day to stop and listen to what you are saying to yourself. You may even want to write it down. There may be some talk you want to keep that is leading you towards your goals and there may be some talk you need to override and be careful of. To override negative self-talk – write it down and try to replace that comment with a positive one which you will try to use in future
LIVE YOUR VALUES
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma was a very impressive human being so isn’t it great we are using a thought process. (Philosophy continuum) nearly identical to something he believed?
Try looking at two different religions and you will see some obvious examples of different values. You will also notice some common values if you can get past the differences in costume between two cultures. Whoever we are we have the personal power and right to choose the values that suit us (as long as our values and choices don’t hurt others). If we accept that we can change some of our fundamental beliefs and values – then we can certainly change some of our self limiting beliefs and values in regards to our health and fitness.
Values can be defined as “broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. “Equal rights for all”, “Excellence deserves admiration”, and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behaviour.”
I have to agree with Wikipedia on that – values tend to influence attitudes and behaviours. In fact I’m sure our philosophy to results continuum has this covered. So it doesn’t make sense to say we value a healthy lean body and then go and eat a whole cake. But these things happen to all of us. Why does this happen? Maybe our values aren’t clearly perceived.
Maybe they aren’t really established? Maybe they aren’t believed?
“Living your values means placing greater emphasis on and making a greater commitment to activities, experiences, and people that express those values.”
That’s not an easy process but it really is that simple. As soon as you identify values that are in alignment with your goals and make a commitment to living in alignment with those values – you will move rapidly towards your goals.
“Values are the underlying motivators of all of our actions”
|1. Focus your Philosophy
2. Focus on Attitude
3. Focused execution
4. Focused movement
5. Eat Naturally
6. Rest & Relax
7. Reflect and Renew
|Mind Body Gratitude Courage Work Principle Virtue||
Philosophy Attitude Action Results Lifestyle
|Beliefs Thoughts Words Actions Habits Values Destiny|
FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE
“Peace is a treasure of the mind that is not acquired without effort. If we let ourselves be overwhelmed by our personal problems, no matter how tragic, we only increase our difficulties and become a burden on those around us.” (Happiness, Mathieu Ricard).
I think there are events in many peoples’ lives that can either break them or make them stronger and all this strategy is saying is to consciously try to make the choice to get stronger. Don’t allow yourself to be the victim in any circumstance. Make the choice to get stronger because of what happens. This may not always be easy and sometimes maybe not even possible but by making the choice to try to turn negative situations into personal growth you can potentially overcome anything.
“While suffering is never desirable, that does not mean that we can’t make use of it, when it is inevitable, to progress humanly and spiritually. Suffering can provide an extraordinary lesson capable of making us aware of the superficiality of many of our daily concerns, of our own fragility, and, above all, of what really counts deep down within us.” (Happiness, Mathieu Ricard).
The previous quote from reads like poetry to me and agrees with my point here. Use your challenges as lessons. In difficult moments sometimes you have to fight – you have to struggle and it is this struggling that makes us stronger.
Here are three methods from his book for achieving this:
- USE MENTAL IMAGERY’
One method for when a powerful feeling of desire, envy, pride, aggression, or greed plagues your mind, try to imagine situations that are sources of peace. Transport yourself mentally to the shores of a placid lake or to a high mountaintop overlooking a broad vista. Imagine yourself sitting serenely, your mind as vast and clear as a cloudless sky, as calm as a windless ocean. Experience this calmness.
- EXERCISE COMPASSION
Through compassion we take control of our own suffering, linked to that of all others, in the thought that “others besides me are afflicted by similar hardships to mine, and sometimes far worse.
- EXERCISE YOUR INNER
Training in the exchange of happiness and suffering. Begin by generating a powerful feeling of warmth, loving-kindness, and compassion for all beings. Then imagine those who are enduring suffering similar to or worse than your own. As you breathe out, visualize that you are sending them all your happiness, vitality, good fortune, health, and so on, on your breath in the form of cool, white, luminous nectar. Picture them fully absorbing the nectar, which soothes their pain and fulfils their aspirations. If their life is in danger of being cut short, imagine that it has been prolonged; if they are sick, imagine that they are healed; if they are poor and helpless, imagine that they have obtained what they need; if they are unhappy, that they have become full of joy. When you inhale, visualize your heart as a bright, luminous sphere. Imagine that you are taking upon yourself, in the form of a gray cloud, the disease, confusion, and mental toxins of these people, which disappears into the white light of your heart without leaving any trace. This will transform both your own suffering and that of others. There is no sense that you are being burdened by them. When you are taking upon yourself and dissolving their sufferings, feel a great happiness, without attachment or clinging.
DIRECT YOUR DESIRE
Desire can assume infinitely varied forms: we can desire a glass of cool water, someone to love, a moment of peace, the happiness of others; we can also desire our own death. Desire can nourish our existence and can poison it. Keep your desire focused on your goals and dreams by actually having them written down and highly visible. This will help to keep you focused.
If a sailor looses the tiller and lets the sails flap in the wind and the boat drift wherever the currents take it, it is not called freedom —it is called drifting. Freedom here means taking the helm and sailing toward the chosen destination. This is where having a personal mission statement can help you clarify your direction for yourself.
Change requires change… sorry to state the obvious but I have had plenty of people come to me on our first meeting and say “I’m here to lose fat and get fit but I’m not changing (fill in the blank)”. This comes right back to the philosophy to results continuum as a blatant example of not accepting that your attitudes and actions have earned you your results. An openness to change is exactly what is required if you are truly able to make changes in your health, fitness and life.
If you want to change your body you probably need to change your head (philosophy/attitudes). Doing so will help you set the foundations for you to help yourself and achieve the health, fitness and lifestyle you desire.
“We are very much like birds that have lived too long in a cage to which we return even when we get the chance to fly away.”
Habit one is about realising some of your fundamental beliefs, values and influences can be changed and you have the power and privilege to change any personal philosophy that doesn’t work for you.
I’m not telling you what to believe in – I am encouraging you to choose for yourself what you believe in – Focus your philosophy.
MY PHILOSOPHY FOR EXAMPLE
Let’s review my philosophy on my own health and fitness as an example of guiding truths and principle. It may not be perfect but it has helped me to never a miss d day of work in my life and enjoy great freedom and ability of movement and energy. I have played national, regional and recreational sport most of my life and rarely been inactive despite injury.
“Health is a necessity for the duties and the pleasures of life”. As much as I love the wisdom and guidance of religion and spiritual leaders like the Dali Lama – I believe you only get one life – I will ensure my health and fitness helps me to perform my duties to the best of my ability and helps me to enjoy the pleasures of my life in all of their richness. I will often forgo short term pleasures for long term health and I will always try to maintain a balanced and healthy approach to my health, fitness and life.” I will eat to live and not live to eat whilst at the same time enjoying the pleasures that food can bring. I will act in alignment with the belief that we eat to nourish our body and will therefore make healthy choices most of the time. I believe that sometimes I need to train hard and sometimes I need to listen to my body and rest and by doing so I will become stronger and more energetic for the long term
I know that maintaining my movement, eating and rest in healthy ways will make me a better, stronger more positive person for all the things I want to do in my life and will help me to be a positive influence on my family, friends and community. “
I think it’s fair to say this is a fairly aligned philosophy with natural laws when you consider not having health means limitation, illness, disability or death. So I have covered that. I have also covered that we need our health for work and pleasure (life in general). I have drawn some deeper meaning into the value of my health by recognizing my own spiritual beliefs and I have included a strategy for maintaining my health.
For those of you who believe in god I would challenge you to find and record biblical references to valuing ones health and fitness and ask yourself whether you are living up to this.
The key thing about having a philosophy is it gives you a guiding light from which to form your decisions and reflect on your actions. There are plenty of times where I have lived outside of my own philosophy but I always come back to it because it has powerful reasons within it for why I cherish my health and fitness.
Chasing after your health and fitness without first having a strong and aligned philosophy to your health and fitness goals is like trying to build a house without a concrete slab and foundations. Your efforts will be on shaky ground at best and all it takes is a strong wind to come along and knock you over and the whole effort can fall in a heap – left in a pile of rubble until next time you think you will give it a try.
“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.” ~William Shakespeare